Clinical values of Valerian Herb
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae) is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. In the summer when the mature plant may have a height of 1.5 metres (5 ft.), it bears sweetly scented pink or white flowers that attract many fly species, especially hoverflies of the genus Eristalis. It is consumed as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species, including the grey pug. Valerian root is often referred to as “nature’s Valium.” In fact, this herb has been used since ancient times to promote tranquility and improve sleep. Flowers from the valerian plant were used to make perfume centuries ago, and the root portion has been used in traditional medicine for at least 2,000 years. Unlike its delicately scented flowers, valerian root has a very strong, earthy odor due to the volatile oils and other compounds responsible for its sedative effects.
Valerian root extract is available as a supplement in capsule or liquid form. It can also be consumed as a tea. Valerian is most commonly used for sleep disorders, especially the inability to sleep. Valerian is also used orally for anxiety and psychological stress, but there is limited scientific research to support these uses. Valerian seems to act like a sedative on the brain and nervous system. Possible effects can be seen for Insomnia and Menopause patients. Despite valerian’s observed gentleness, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding are advised to avoid it because no studies have been carried out on the potential risks of valerian to a fetus or an infant. Children under 3 years old should not be given valerian either as its effects on early development have not been evaluated.
Valerian seems to be most effective after you take it regularly for two or more weeks. Because dosages varied in studies involving valerian and some studies weren't rigorous, it's not clear what dose is most effective or for how long you should take a particular dose. Although valerian is thought to be fairly safe, side effects such as headache, dizziness, stomach problems or sleeplessness may occur. Valerian may not be safe if you're pregnant or breast-feeding. And it has not been evaluated to determine if it's safe for children under 3 years old. If you have liver disease, avoid taking valerian as it can show major side effects. And because valerian can make you drowsy, avoid driving or operating dangerous machinery after taking it.
Valerian may increase the effects of other sleep aids. It also increases the sedative effect of depressants, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines and narcotics. Valerian can interfere with some prescription medications. And it may interact with other dietary supplements, such as St. John's wort. Because the compounds in valerian produce central nervous system depression, they should not be used with other depressants, such as ethanol (drinking alcohol), benzodiazepines, barbiturates, opiates, kava, or antihistamine drugs. Although no liver problems are normally encountered with valerian use, there have been case studies in which hepatotoxicity has been observed in apparently hypersensitive individuals following short-term use.
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